March’s program — which used higher reps, more sets and slightly lighter weights, and the 10+10 rep method for heavy sets — was very successful. I went up in weight on squats, bench press, curls, and overhead press. =)
For April, I wanted to mix things up and see how much my max weights had improved. I am not big on 1-rep maxes – I think these vary from day to day based on how you’re feeling, how much sleep you got, any muscle tightness you’re experiencing, etc. I focus much more on 5 rep or 10 rep sets at weights where I can maintain proper form. So, this month, I decided to test a variation of my old favorite routine – combining sets of 5 reps at heavy weight, sets of 10 reps at medium weight, and sets of 20 reps with light weight. For each workout over the past 2-3 weeks, I’ve used 2 exercise variations for 5 sets x 5 reps with ~80-85% max, 2 exercise variations for 3sets X10 reps with 65-70% max, and 2 exercise variations for 2 sets x20 reps @ 55-60% max. I then add 1-2 “kill-it” moves – my name for extra exercise variations at the end of a long workout. Finally, I’ve finished every workout with a 5-10 min “cardio” lift (swings, olympic lifts, plyo, etc) to get my heart rate up.
Here are sample workouts:
(1) 5×5 back squat @185lbs, front squat @145lbs (on my glute focused day, I sub in deadlifts @205lbs for front squats)
(Not as low as I normally go, but with heavy weight, make sure to at least get below parallel, with knees pushed out, toes pointed forward, and the bulk of your weight in the heels)
(Keep your elbows high and drawn in in front of your chest, with knees out, toes pointed forward, and weight in the heels.)
(2) 3×10 wide plie squats 145lbs, narrow squats @ 185 (on the smith machine) (on my glute day, I sub in reverse lunges @ 135lbs)
(I didn’t get a good photo at the bottom of the range of motion, but squat all the way below parallel! Feet should be close together, about 1-2 inches apart.)
(3) 2 X 20 leg press @270lbs, kettlebell lunges @ 16/kg per arm (on glute day, sub in glute bridges @ 100lbs)
(4) Kill-it moves: 2 x12 leg curls or leg extensions @ 85lbs, and 3 x 20 hip abductions @ 225lbs
(5) Cardio: 4 rounds (no rest) of 6 jumping squats @ 65lbs, 9 kb swings @ 24kg, 12 jumping lunges, 15 mountain climbers.
Another good option is 10 min of 45 sec jumping rope, 15 sec rest.
(1) 5×5 each: narrow bench press @ 80lbs, hammer curls @ 30/arm, skull crushers @ 60lbs, wide curls @ 60 lbs (Superset the narrow bench and hammer curls, with a short rest after you’ve finished both moves. Then move on to supersets of skull crushers and wide curls.
(Hold the bar with about 3-4 inches between your hands. Press up and lower down)
(2) 3X10 v-curls @ 20 lbs, kickbacks @ 20lbs
(Lower the weights out to your sides, finishing with the weight right above your hips)
(3) 2X20 Press outs @ 12.5 lbs, narrow dumbbell curls @ 15lbs
(4) Kill-it moves: 2 X 20 dips and concentration curls @ 15 lbs
(remember to have fun!)
(5) Cardio: 5 rounds of 10 each dumbbell runs, ball slams, and kettlebell swings
(the video only shows 5 of each move for demonstrative purposes!)
(1) 5X5 chest press (descending – 1@115, 4@105) and rows @90-100lbs (I bumped it up for the last 3 sets)
(Yes – I need to work on my keeping my wrists straight. Another benefit of photographing my workouts == spotting room for improvement).
(2) 3X10 incline press @ 65lbs, dumbbell rows @35/arm, decline press @ 75lbs, and one arm rows (not pictured) @27.5/arm
(3) 2×20 lat pulldown @70lbs, cable cross (not pictured) @ 50lbs
(4) Kill it move: 5-4-3-2-1 descending pyramid of alternating seated low rows and assisted pull-ups (no rest)
(5) Not-cardio: pushup challenge
Do 1 pushup, jump up to standing, drop down and do 2 pushups, jump to standing, and repeat through, 3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10 pushups for time. I finished mine in 1:11 this time.
(no pictures, sorry!)
(1) 5×5 strict press @ 70lbs, push press @ 80lbs
(2) 3×10 front raise to lateral raise combo @ 15lbs , one arm clean and press @ 27.5/arm
(3) 2 X20 arm circles @ 12.5lbs, lateral/front raise combo @ 12.5 lbs [when the left arm is doing a front raise, the right arm is doing a lateral raise; switch sides each rep]
(4) Kill it moves: 1X20 lateral raises with thumbs pointed to the ceiling, 2X20 rotator cuff push outs
(5) Cardio: 3 rounds of 3 clean and press @ 65lbs, 5 ground to overhead @ 65lbs, 7 push press @ 65lbs, and 5/arm snatch @ 12 kg (no rest)
We added in one extra tabata round of ball slams – 4 min of 20 sec slamming, 10 sec rest.
As always, remember to work on flexibility and balance while strengthening – it is easy to lose your range of motion when working with heavier weights.